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Dodgy characters trade on vulnerability

Rosemary Dawson considers everyday ideas that go way back to the 66 books of the Bible

The bad side of human nature has found opportunities

EVERY couple of weeks I receive an email from the county council Trading Standards department, warning me about rogue traders in my area.

This week’s email contained news of several high-pressure doorstep salesmen selling solar panels, new roofs, home improvements and fake but expensive-looking French cookware.

A lot of these dodgy sales people tend to ask for cash on the spot – and that will be the last time you see them and your money. The golden rule, says Trading Standards, is never to hand over any money till the work has begun, and then only half of it until the work is completed.

I also hear a lot of warnings about the increasing number of phone and ‘phishing’ scams. There have been many cases of people receiving calls purporting to be from the police or a bank, asking for a person’s password or other details because they may have been stolen. The list of scams is never-ending. Through the centuries, the bad side of human nature has always found new opportunities. In itself, computer technology is wonderful, but it also leads to millions of scams that can have disastrous effects on vunerable people.

When someone sinister gives off an impression of goodness, they could be described as ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’. This phrase echoes something Jesus said in the New Testament when he was warning his followers about false teachers or people pretending to be something they were not: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’ (Matthew 7:15 King James Bible). A modern paraphrase puts this more clearly: ‘Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practised sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character’ (The Message).

Today, there are still plenty of sheep and wolves about in all areas of life. It’s wise to act with due care and attention when we encounter them, so we can recognise them for what they truly are. 

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